Monday, September 25, 2006
# Posted 10:09 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
After a number of readers objected to this description, Mirengoff posted a defense of the phrase, which was seconded by John Hinderaker. I believe Paul and John are arguing in good faith, so I will take their position seriously. Here is what I take to be Paul's central argument:
As short-hand descriptions go, "terrorist rights" gets it just about right. For that is precisely McCain and company have been pushing for -- the right of terrorists to more judicial process than they initially were granted; the right of terrorists to avoid aggressive interrogation techniques that the administration successfully has used to obtain important information from them; the right of terrorists to find out more about the evidence that will be used against them than the administration was willing to have disclosed in certain cases, and so forth. The term "terrorist rights" is no more unfair as applied to these advocates than the term "gay rights" is for advocates of gay marriage, legalizaion of gay sexual practices, etc.I want to begin with Paul's analogy to the question of gay rights. I think it is fair to say that advocates of gay rights believe that homosexuals, at minimum, should be entitled to the exact same rights as other citizens. Not just more rights than they have now, but equal rights.
I also think it is fair to say that advocates of gay rights believe that homosexuality is the moral equivalent of heterosexuality. My point being that it is appropriate to refer to someone as an advocate of "terrorist rights" if they argue that terrorism is morally acceptable and that terrorists deserve the same rights as others.
Now let me broaden my argument a bit, since I want it to rest on more than one analogy. In general, when we speak of someone as an advocate of a certain group's rights, what do we mean?
Consider the following terms: women's rights, minority rights, workers' rights, and prisoners' rights. I think that the phrases "women's rights" and "minority rights" entail assumptions very similar to the term "gay rights". Both of them assert that the group in question are moral equivalents of a preferred group and therefore deserve equal rights.
Workers' rights is a different kind of concept. It usually refers to the belief that workers deserve a specified set of benefits and protections, not that they deserve the same rights as employers. In that sense, there is a rough analogy to what McCain et. al. want for terrorists, which is a limited set of protections. However, no advocate of workers' rights sees being a worker as something inherently evil.
What about prisoners' rights? Leaving aside the issue of rights for those who may have been wrongly convicted, prisoners' rights refers to a set of benefits and protections for those who have been incarcerated as a result of a committing a crime. In addition, there is a negative moral status attached to being a prisoner, but really that status is attached to being a criminal, not to being in prison.
Criminals are bad from the moment they commit their crime (or perhaps earlier). Their badness has nothing to do with whether or not they have already been caught and sent to prison.
Nonetheless, it is worth reflecting for a moment on the phrase "criminals' rights", because that is how the advocates of rougher justice describe the cause of those who speak out on behalf of prisoners. Just as McCain, regardless of his intentions, defends the rights of terrorists, the ACLU and others defend the rights of criminals.
But the critical point to recognize is that the ACLU etc. aren't petitioning for such rights because they believe that committing a crime entitles one to certian protections, but rather that there are limits to how a democratic government can punish those in its custody.
By extension, there is nothing wrong with describing John McCain or Lindsey Graham or John Warner or OxBlog as an advocate of detainee rights. Those detained by our government still have certain rights, even if they are terrorists. But if that same terrorist were not in US custody but in the crosshairs of a US army sniper, we damn sure would want his head blown off. That is why it is flat out wrong to call us advocates of terorrist rights. (27) opinions -- Add your opinion
Maybe some more lipstick. And see if you can get it to stop grunting and squealing. The "This is not a Pig" sign is good though.
I for one am sick and tired of hearing McCain, Graham, and the terrorist rights lobby continually deciding that they are the national conscience. They are a bunch of grandstanding politicians, no more, no less. If they spent half the time trying to hit the Jihadi harder instead of wringing their hands about whether we are too rough, maybe we could win this war.
Terrorist Rights Lobby. Sounds dead on accurate to me.
A clarifying point.
A lot of the time, it is not clear whether an individual is a terrorist or not. The question of what forms of interrogation are permitted is about the treatment of detainees who may or may not be terrorists.
As for the previous comment, since McCain et al are supported by a significant number of retired generals, I wonder if they also count as "grandstanding"?
Really, this question should have been settled back in the C17th. Torture is simply not what civilised countries do, no matter what the provocation. I fail to see what is so different about this war, that it needs these extra steps to win, when, for example, the War against the Japanese Imperium and the Nazis did not.
On this issue, I agree with Menachem Begin, who totally banned the use of any form of torture, even a slap on the face, by Israelis.
The war on terror is ours to lose. Unfortunently, we are dealing with a brutal enemy, one who beheads people.
They are a tough bunch. If they are to be defeated, then methods that they understand will have to be utilized, wheather we a civilized or not. This is not fun and games, it is war, a war for the survial of our and the western worlds way of life.
Playing by rules like McCain and his grandstanding bunch of buddies want to do only gives aid and confort to the enemy. The American people, in my opinion, have had their heads in the sand way too long related to what is transpiring. Their next trip to the mall seemingly is more important that realizing that their way of life is treatened. Hopefully people will begin to wake up, start voting the useless windbags like McCain and Graham plus a bunch of liberal leftest like Kennedy and Kerry out of office while there is still time to preserve our way of life. If not, then be prepared to wear a rag around your head, or if female, be covered from head to toe and walk 5 paces behind your male et cetera. The choice is the choice of each and every individual, but be aware of the consequences of actions. We are fighting an enemy different from anyone ever fought before. Their life means very little. They behave like animials, thus they deserve like treatment. People who send their children off to be blown up are not civilized human beings, and trying to treat them as same will only result in our defeat. The choice is the choice of each individual in the Western World, and I personnally know where I stand. I would suggest to all to take an long hard look at who these terrorist are, what they represent, what their goals are, and them decide if we continue to treat them as civilized human beings, or treat them in a manner that they understand. Actually, wrapping them in a dead pig carcass, and throwing them in a hole as the British use to do to me is not all that bad.
The choice is yours. Think about it, think about the future of our nation and the civilized western world, and think about what it going to take to crush those whose only desire is to eliminate the western devils. They do not play by the same rules. Read the Koran, and perhaps one will better understand what type of enemy we are dealing with, what their goal is, and what under the name of religion they are allowed to do. It is not pretty.
"A lot of the time, it is not clear whether an individual is a terrorist or not..."
Nobody is advocating we "torture" every detainee in custody. That is a strawman argument. The debate concerns high value terrorist operatives. There is no "except for high value terrorist operatives" language proposed by the rights lobbyists.
"...also count as grandstanding?"
Having people who agree with you doesn't immunize you from grandstanding now does it?
"...not what civilized..."
So it is A-OK to incinerate a few hundred thousand civilians at Dresden or Hiroshima. We are still civilized after doing that. But heaven forbid that we waterboard a terrorist, because then we will no longer be a civilized nation. That's kind of a ridiculous argument.
I also question the morality of anyone who would let ten thousand Americans die in a terrorist attack rather than use any means at our disposal to get information on the time, place, and means of such an attack. Preventing us from getting that information does not strike me as moral behavior, but of moral cowardice of the Pontius Pilate variety: "let them die in a terrorist attack because it will offend my high moral sensibilities to get my hands dirty preventing it." Not much of a moral high ground IMO.
"...I agree with Menachim Begin..."
Certainly an important proponent for your case. But Bush has also said that torture is unacceptable. And I doubt you could find anyone informed about the Middle East saying that Israel never slaps anyone on the face.
Guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one. But if you want to lobby for rights for terrorists, don't be upset if people call you a lobbyist for terrorist rights.
I also question the morality of anyone who would let ten thousand Americans die in a terrorist attack rather than use any means at our disposal to get information on the time, place, and means of such an attack.
Would you question the morality of someone who would let 2,973 people die without bothering to forcefully respond to a PDB entitled 'Bin Laden determined to strike in US?' Admittedly, he was on vacation.
You have this right wing fantasy that torture is some kind of a magic bullet. Suppose for a second that this is true. Since we can torture anyone we want in Iraq, anyone, and we do, then why is our situation there so dire? Why are things there getting worse and not better?
Now let's look at an alternative analysis. Regardless of whether torture is effective or moral, regardless, it plays well with a certain political wing, your wing. Could torture be for purely domestic purposes, the vicarious thrill of Chuck Norris beating up the bad guy? Around election time? Rovian? Immigration didn't work and abortion is getting kind of boring; so let's try torture.
For lawyers, Mirengoff and Hinderaker are assuming a lot of facts not in evidence. Kind of reminds me of this speech of Danforth's from The Crucible:
"In an ordinary crime, how does one defend the accused? One calls up witnesses to prove their innocence. But witchcraft is ipso facto: of its form and by its nature an invisible crime. Therefore who may possibly be witness to it? the witch and the victim, none other. Now we cannot hope the witches will accuse themselves, granted? Therefore, we must rely upon the victims and the children, they certainly do testify. As for the witches, none will deny that we are most eager for their confessions. What more may a lawyer possibly bring out?"
Waterboarding and dunking witches. How far we have advanced.
Regardless of the term "terrorist rights" or "detainee rights", the question of how far we can go in interrogating terrorists is an important one. We need a standard which will allow interrogators to gain actionable intelligence without giving up what McCain calls the "moral high ground". So here's my thought: if it's something to which we would subject US soldiers or special operators in training, then it seems logical to assume that it would be acceptable to subject detainees to the same.
So, someone please tell me why this standard is either unclear or unacceptable?
Be sure to let us know when any of those undunked witches brings down tall buildings in NYC or a Marine barracks in Lebanon.
Be sure to let us know when any of those undunked witches brings down tall buildings in NYC or a Marine barracks in Lebanon.
Strawman nonsense. Better vigilance will do much more to protect us than feeding your lust for torture.
I just have two questions for the Bush defenders here in light of the August 6, 2001 PDB:
1.) Why did Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld threaten to urge a veto on September 9, 2001 if the Senate diverted $600 million from missile defense to counter-terrorism?
2.) Why, on September 10, 2001 did Attorney General Ashcroft submit a 31 page budget request to OMB that made no virtually no mention of counter-terrorism except to eliminate $65 million for counter-terrorism equipment grants and "did not recommend the budget enhancements requested by the FBI for 'Foreign Language Services,' 'Counter-terrorism Field Investigations,' and 'Intelligence Production (Field and HQs Intelligence Research Specialists),' totaling $57,814,000?"
Either they did not take the August 6 PDB very seriously or the president did not deem the information in the PDB important enough to share with the Secretary of Defense or the Attorney General.
So Bush supporters, which is it?
lol, why should I take a break from my alleged "lust for torture" to run out and research some obscure off topic "gotcha points" from several years ago. No doubt you are getting ready to prove that Rove wired the Pentagon with double super secret explosives on 9/10. I'll bet you are just trying to get your witches off the hook before they get dunked. :-)
Have a great life and don't forget to check for neocons lusting for torture under your bed.
Actually, damav, we're just fact checking. You're welcome to join in or you can live in your Right Wing horror movie. Since I don't like you, I hope your movie is rated PG-13 so that you don't have sex before your character gets killed off.
Page 533 of the 9/11 report says distribution of the PDB in "the Bush Administration, distribution in the pre-9/11 time period was limited to six people." The briefer gives the PDB to the President and in separate briefings to the SecDef and SecState. Ashcroft as Attorney General was not on the PDB distribution list.
Rumsfeld knew. Ashcroft didn't care.
There is a reason that, back in the C17th, it was decided in England that torture was not appropriate for the agents of the state to engage in.
It was because of the pervasive effect on said agents and the power of the state. Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky has written eloquently on this point recently in the Washington Post. Policies have incentive effects: coercive examination has incentive effects on who becomes an agent of the state, what they feel entitled to do, how the rules of the state operate, etc creating a path that we just don't want to go down.
More particularly, it is a stupid way to prosecute the war on terror (not only a crime, a blunder). We cannot impress the world that we can be more brutal than the jihadis, nor should we even try. More humane and effective, that we can do. And feeding the claim that our commitment to free societies, the rule of law, fundamental decency is all hypocrisy that does not apply once our enemies are Muslims is double plus unclever.
As has been pointed out, we made such a big thing about inhuman treatment of prisoners by the Japanese. If it was wrong for them to engage in waterboarding and sleep deprivation, why is it suddenly OK for us to do? What answer can we give that is not some version of because our enemies are now Muslims?
Basic to the corruption of the modern Left has been the use of beliefs as status markers. That to have the "wrong" opinion is a defect of moral character, leading to a poisoning of anything resembling careful analysis or even genuinely reasoned debate. Much of what passes for patriotism and conservatism in the US at the moment seems to have caught the same disease--so you are only a "real" support of the war on terror if you support coercive examination.
Mencham Begin, John McCain, Vladimir Bukovsky. What do they have in common? They had been tortured. They are also all brave men. The language that alleged "patriots" are using to describe supporting the position that torture, no matter what euphemism is used to pass it off as something different, is not what we should do, is disgraceful.
All legal rights can be described as rights for malefactors. But Anglosphere is the fortunate heir of a long tradition which establishes limited government and a network of supporting legal rights. A tradition the apparently be traded in so some folk can parade how committed they are to defeating the jihadis.
I'll bet you are just trying to get your witches off the hook before they get dunked. :-)
Since you seem to be incapable of arguing your case like an adult, I'll try to dumb it down for you.
Those who actually interrogate people (as opposed to those who watch 24 and think it's real as appears to be the case with you) consistently make the case that the way to get results is to build rapport with the person being interrogated.
That may not work with Ayman Al Zawahari, but in case you didn't know (as it appears you don't), he was tortured for years in Egypt and has probably endured far worse than what we would do to him.
So who should we believe you or professional interrogators? Who has more credibility, you or Vladimir Bukovsky?:
"Now it appears that sleep deprivation is "only" CID and used on Guantanamo Bay captives. Well, congratulations, comrades! It was exactly this method that the NKVD used to produce those spectacular confessions in Stalin's "show trials" of the 1930s. The henchmen called it "conveyer," when a prisoner was interrogated nonstop for a week or 10 days without a wink of sleep. At the end, the victim would sign any confession without even understanding what he had signed."
So do you want information or just to torture someone? Seems to me ypu want the latter.
As for the asinine comment about getting people off the hook, I work at 120 Broadway. I'm sure you know what that vast empty space to the north is.
I don't need your clueless babble to explain the dangers of terrorism to me. I lived through it. I lived through threats from the Red Army Faction in the 1970's when I lived in Germany. I don't need advice from a wannabe tough guy.
I should be banned for this but I am going to respond to everyone:
lorenzo said: "that it needs these extra steps to win, when, for example, the War against the Japanese Imperium and the Nazis did not."
*aaarggghh* There were no extra steps in the Pacific left to take.
"They do not play by the same rules. Read the Koran, and perhaps one will better understand what type of enemy we are dealing with"
I don't mean to be a dick, but I doubt you have read the Koran. There are too many people on the net telling people to read the Koran so they can see how bad muslims are, most muslims can't even read it at this point.
"Shorter anonymous: They hate us for our human rights, so we must give up our human rights."
Human rights are relative just like compassion and culture:)
"You have this right wing fantasy that torture is some kind of a magic bullet. Suppose for a second that this is true."
Anon, how are you? It's not a fantasy you are typing about, a little more then a dozen people have gotten a taste of the big R and broke, just like the Americans do, and gave up intel. No fantasy, not torturing P.O.W.'s, just results.
"blah, blah, blah, Rovian, blah"
It's so stupid it's funny. Only someone from Europe would drag Chuck Norris into anything. God you suck. I am going to save this in some sort of scrap-book and e-mail tim blair (you have got to attach your name to something this mindless, please):
"Now let's look at an alternative analysis. Regardless of whether torture is effective or moral, regardless, it plays well with a certain political wing, your wing. Could torture be for purely domestic purposes, the vicarious thrill of Chuck Norris beating up the bad guy? Around election time? Rovian? Immigration didn't work and abortion is getting kind of boring; so let's try torture."
I wouldn't say banned; I don't think that the fab four ban people, even you. More than likely you will be ignored. Also, for your purposes, my name is Mike.
"lol, why should I take a break from my alleged 'lust for torture' to run out and research some obscure off topic 'gotcha points' from several years ago."
Because you would lose the argument if you tried, so - like your beloved president - you'll just simply ignore inconvenient facts and hop onto the next falsehood in order to promote your concocted worldview.
Plus, it's obvious you wouldn't know the first thing about researching.
So, submit a face-saving "lol" and hope you can smoke screen everyone from noticing you're at a loss. Then run away. Quickly.
Sorry. You lost.
Given the fact that not one of you in the pro-torture camp has provided one scintilla of proof that torturing people, which incidentally is a crime against humanity, I believe that you are the one who needs to wake up, or perhaps give up your modeling career.
They want to kill us and some of you fools are against torture? WAKE up!
But some of us would like to engage in a bit of thought in opposing our enemy. Besides, if decent treatment of captured enemies is good enough for George Washington, who faced beheading as a traitor if he lost, it is good enough for the rest of us.
Oh dear, I just agreed with Hilary. I must be beyond the pale ...
Who should we believe, those who have zero experience in interrogating or those who do it for a living:
" Another possibility is that they were ordered by higher-ups to ''soften up'' the prisoners, in the words of the iron-jawed translator. But if that was true, then those in charge were if anything even more unskilled at real interrogation than their subordinates, the experts say.
''You've got to be able to count on the quality of the information you're obtaining,'' said Michael Baker, a 16-year veteran of the C.I.A. who is now chief executive of Diligence Middle East, a private security company that is working in Iraq. ''And once the prisoner is being tortured, how do you rely on what he's saying, because people will do anything to make the torture go away,'' Mr. Baker said."
If you think ABC/Nightline are credible this guy might count for something. (Yes, I know bill o'reilly is a jackass but it was the first clip I could find). It also does not apply to P.O.W.'s, nobody said it did/will etc...
I think the most interesting question here is WHY?. Why has McCain taken this pro-terrorist position? The explanation offered-that of protecting our troops in case of capture-is truly ludicrous and more than just a little insulting to those with an intellect above a duck. I believe John McCain is the most self-interested, self-serving and arrogant member of the Senate. (Just consider the amount of ground that covers!) He will do nothing without consideration of the possible impact on his presidential ambitions. Indeed these come well before his concerns for the United States or its citizens. But why come out so forcefully for the rights of the enemy? Clearly he believes his 2008 run will not be negatively impacted. Is he once again courting a fawning liberal media? It's an interesting question.
Why has McCain taken this pro-terrorist position?
Yes, John McCain is clearly pro-terrorist because having been tortured, he dosn't want it being done in his name.
Since the right is fond of Orwell these daus, perhaps you should read some:
"If you disregard people’s motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions. For there are occasions when even the most misguided person can see the results of what he is doing. Here is a crude but quite possible illustration. A pacifist is working in some job which gives him access to important military information, and is approached by a German secret agent. In those circumstances his subjective feelings do make a difference. If he is subjectively pro-Nazi he will sell his country, and if he isn’t, he won’t. And situations essentially similar though less dramatic are constantly arising."
If you believe everyone who opposes torture is ipso facto pro-terrorist, then you are being silly.
Europe is fond of Bubba because he is a non-threatening oaf fulfilling their vision of Americans as ignorant fools. "W" on the other hand has reminded much of the world that we can and will take action where necessary. Europe is thus intimidated. I frankly don't give a hairy rat's etc. what the Europeans think of "W" or the U. S. They are quickly undermining their own freedoms in ways more horrifying than wire taps in order to placate the islamofascists. I for one don't intend donning a bhurka anytime soon.
Bubba's an ignorant fool? Lady, President Clinton was a Rhodes scholar.
I for one don't intend [on] donning a bhurka anytime soon.
Perhaps you'd prefer a Catholic nun's habit.
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